Do you have self-control? What do you need to do in order to have control over your wants and focus on your needs? Well, this article will help you master the ways to acquire self-control. In life, we cant’t always have what we want and everyone have different belief, these things differ us from other people. We always need to have self-control so we can live a happier and healthier life.
The worst thing you can do for your body (and your brain) is to go hungry. When your blood sugar is low, you are more likely to gravitate towards those sweet treats which will spike your sugar levels back up and leave you on the never ending roller coaster of diet and binge. Moreover, beyond the physical ramifications, going hungry is even worse for your brain. A study by Dr. Brad Bushman from Ohio State University showed that participants with lower blood sugar levels more frequently showed signs of irritability or anger. Our brains need fuel to run properly, and when that fuel runs low, the brain has difficulty regulating our emotions. Eating high protein foods will give your body that slow burn it needs to keep you fuller longer and keep the “hangry” away.
The mind can be a restless thing. And when your thoughts are driven by restlessness or anxiety, you are more likely to think impulsively and act on those impulses. Learning to control your thoughts through meditation can be the best tool for finding balance and suppressing the “fight or flight” response that is so common in stressful situations. When you meditate, your body naturally increases the levels on GABA in your brain, a hormone that regulates anxiety. It is the body’s main neurotransmitter tied to relaxation. If you can devote a few minutes a day to simply focusing on your breath and your senses, you will be calmer and your decision making will be sounder.
Similar to going hungry, going without enough sleep is just as detrimental to your body and mind. Your brain’s ability to absorb glucose is significantly diminished without rest, meaning you are less likely to exert self-control—over everything from eating to your other decision-making. Staying consistent with your sleep every night can make all the difference when it comes to being in control of your impulses. You will be more productive throughout the day and be more effective in dealing with stressful situations and frustrations. If you are someone that has trouble sleeping, go back and see #2. Meditating before bed can help your body drift off to sleep naturally as opposed to taking an over the counter sleeping remedy.
Exercise keeps you healthy in all aspects of your life: mind, body, and spirit. Aside from the obvious physical benefits, exercise provides biochemical changes in the brain such as increasing your levels of endorphins and serotonin. Physical activity also positively changes brain activity allowing for a more calm mental and emotional state. When you are able to think calmly and clearly, you are better equipped to remain in control in stressful situations. And of course if you’re faced with a confrontation, always opt to ‘walk it off’ and cool down before you engage.
5. Force Yourself Until it Becomes a Habit
Speaking of exercise, we all have those days we don’t feel like getting our butt to the gym. Or, we daydream and surf the web at work because we didn’t get enough sleep the night before to function properly. On those days, you literally have to force yourself to do the right thing; i.e. get to that workout class or take the time to refocus your energy and get back to work. Researchers say it takes at least two months for a new habit to form, depending on you and depending on the habit. So, until your efforts start to feel a little more ‘effort less’, keep pushing yourself. I promise it will be worth it.
6. Think Positively
Think about the solution, not the problem. In my new book Strong is the New Skinny, I discuss how becoming the best version of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally starts with a positive outlook. Dwelling on the negative will only reinforce that “I can’t” behavior. Instead, keep a journal of your efforts, the good and the bad, and forgive yourself when you fail. Highlight one time in particular where you succeeded each day and choose to focus on that instead. This will help reinforce the positive and set you up for future successes. That way, when you’re faced with confrontation, whether it’s the boss or the candy jar, you’ll have something to shift your attention to and avoid any negative altercation.
7. Get Others Involved
Realize that although your own efforts may be valiant, you do not need to go about it alone. Know when to ask for help. A support system should be just that, somewhere to go when the going gets rough. Ask your family and friends to keep you accountable to the goals you have set for yourself. It’s easier to cave in to temptations when no one is around. They can also join you in your efforts. For example, if you’re trying to control your drinking, opt for getting dessert with a few friends instead of going out to a bar. (And if you’re trying to watch your weight, go catch a movie instead).
The key to achieving self-control may lie in your ability to visualize it; if you believe it, you can achieve it. Mental imagery has long been used by professional athletes to boost their confidence and results. Studies have shown that both imagining and doing an activity can activate many of the same neural networks that link your brain’s activity to your body’s. Plus, on a strictly psychological level, envisioning success can enhance motivation and confidence. So, visualize what it is you want and then pre commit to accomplishing it, whether it be studying for and acing a big exam or simply passing on the morning doughnut box.
9. Distract Yourself
Back in the 1960’s Columbia University conducted a group of studies, colloquially known as the “Marshmallow Studies”, which sought to explain willpower. Researchers tested hundreds of four-year olds by placing them in a room one at a time, giving them each a marshmallow and instructing them not to eat it. While many of them did in fact eat the sweet treat, the ones that did not were able to do so by distracting themselves with other activities like singing or counting. When you distract yourself, you simply shift your attention away from the temptation whenever it creeps up. Try using this technique in your own life. Conveniently forget your credit card and only bring a limited amount of cash when you go out to avoid over spending, or choose to only keep healthy foods at home to avoid those late night temptations.
10. Do Your Research
When it comes to self-control, knowledge is power. Whatever it is that you’re struggling with, make it your priority to be the master of it. Read books or articles pertaining to the topic. Find people around you that have gone through a similar situation and use their experience as a guide to follow or avoid, depending on their success. Being informed will keep you prepared for whatever might come up.